Republished on Wednesday, 13th July, 2022: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The original text follows.
If anything, Marvel's Avengers has become the victim of its own marketing cycle. Pitched under the Games as a Service banner, loot to grind for, repeatable missions, bounties, daily and weekly tasks, and microtransactions are all very much a part of this superhero undertaking. However, it is also so much more than that. Crystal Dynamics has shied away from showing off its latest single player campaign prior to launch and that's a real shame. It is far and away the best thing about Marvel's Avengers.
Yes, pre-release marketing might not have made it clear, but what the California-based studio decided to do after Rise of the Tomb Raider does indeed feature a narrative-driven campaign. You do not need to team up with other players online, you do not need to invest any extra cash beyond the initial $60 price point, and you do not need to grind for better gear to see the story through to its conclusion. This is a traditional experience that lets you ignore its online trappings completely until the credits roll.
And the star of the show is Kamala Khan. It might be a story about the Avengers, but Ms. Marvel is the protagonist. After the superhero task force is framed for a devastating attack on San Francisco, the Inhuman of Pakistani American origin takes it upon herself to reassemble the Avengers and take the fight to AIM — the corporation who benefited from the downfall of Marvel’s larger-than-life characters. Khan believes she has found a piece of evidence that proves the Avengers were not complicit in the destruction of SF and will stop at nothing to get it in the right hands.
What follows is a 15-hour, globe-trotting campaign packed full of the sort of action, set-pieces, and quips you would expect out of any typical Marvel movie. Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America (of course he isn't dead) all have their moment in the limelight, but the narrative keeps on coming back to Kamala Khan. Despite one too many convenient coincidences, the instantly lovable character becomes the driving force behind nearly every story beat and the high-octane battles in-between. Much like her comic book debut, Ms. Marvel stakes her claim for the lead role and never looks back. She's an absolute triumph of a superhero.
Better yet, there's a star-studded cast of voice actors on board to support the newcomer. Troy Baker is at the point where any of the characters he plays sound exactly like him, but he does a good job of fulfilling the bumbling role of Bruce Banner. Nolan North, meanwhile, captures the witty, stuck-up persona of Tony Stark to a tee.
And although these personalities might be the reason you were on board with Marvel's Avengers from the very beginning, it's the combat that will have you coming back for more. Each of the six characters play differently from one another, and along with three different skill trees for each, you can customise them to fulfil a variety of different roles. Everyone covers the basic light, heavy, and ranged attacks to quickly turn this into a third-person brawler, but there's hardly any button mashing to be had. Combos can be struck up at a moment's notice, takedowns leave most enemies for dead, and both support and damage-minded abilities leave behind a wasteland of destruction.
There's a genuinely deep set of mechanics to explore here — both on a surface level in the pursuit of quick-fire action and the ability to personalise your chosen superhero's build. It was never going to beat the Leviathan Axe from God of War, but there's a distinct level of satisfaction to be gained from throwing Captain America's shield and watching it bounce between enemies, dealing damage as it goes. In full motion, it's outstanding to watch.
What might be even more impressive, though, is that Crystal Dynamics really has managed to make the six superheroes feel and play differently from one another. Iron Man can take to the skies and reign terror down from above with Repulsors, Black Widow is a silent assassin with the Veil of Shadows ability that turns her and anyone nearby invisible, and Hulk plays the classic role of the tank. Kamala Khan, Thor, and Captain America all feel like they fit somewhere in-between these three extremes, but there's enough nuance to ensure they don't all play the same.
Enemy variety isn't so up to par, however. The forces of AIM largely consist of robots that lack the brainpower to do much more than run at your mighty fists and meet their untimely demise. Some come equipped with shields while others pin their hopes of safety on jet packs, but their attacks remain much the same. It can make combat feel a little mindless sometimes, relying on the player to bring about some creativity. Even the boss fights are few and far between. Those that are there are particularly impressive, especially in the final few hours of the campaign. However, given the comic book universe Crystal Dynamics has at its fingertips, it is surprising to see so few of its villains realised in video game form.
Outside of brawling, Marvel's Avengers even channels its developer's previous efforts with set-pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. You will find yourself making great leaps as Kamala Khan, wall running as Captain America, and kicking Iron Man's suit into overdrive to beat an in-game timer. These moments are a welcome break from combat, despite how enjoyable it may be.
And then the credits roll. This is the point where many players will lose interest in Marvel's Avengers, but even those looking for a replacement to Destiny 2 might not find what they're looking for. The endgame content is lacking beyond belief at launch, simply put. A couple of new mission chains do open up, some even with their own unique cutscenes, except they simply serve to reinforce the fact that you will essentially be repeating content from here on out.
Clones of previous boss fights serve as daily quests, War Zone missions use the exact same interiors and environments from mainline assignments, and objectives become staler than ever before. Even the more open-ended levels with optional tasks to complete are recycled over and over again. It gets to the point where quests send you to the exact same place multiple times, but try to disguise it as a different location entirely despite re-used assets and environments.
Now, this is nothing new for these types of experiences — Destiny did it and so too does The Division 2 right now to some extent. However, never has it been so blatantly obvious. Stripped of its narrative stakes and engaging dialogue, the gameplay of Marvel's Avengers relies on its combat so heavily that you start to see it crack under the pressure. As good as those fights are, the game is going to need something more if it hopes to retain a player base months after launch. It feels like the world has moved on from repeating the same levels over and over again for an insignificant statistical upgrade to your character.
We mention stats because the loot you are picking up has absolutely no affect on the look of your chosen superhero. It's a baffling decision because it strips the loot system of any creativity, instead limiting it to the minor boosts items come with. As such, equipping a new exotic piece is completely unexciting as it claims to affect what's under the hood rather than decals visible to the human eye.
It doesn't have anything even remotely close to Destiny's Gjallahorn moment, and the only ways you can unlock new skins revolve around luck, grinding, and microtransactions. The game's equivalent of a Battle Pass hands out outfits for free, but you're limited by how much progress you can make each day. Meanwhile, the in-game marketplace sells legendary skins for roughly $15 apiece. That's a pricey proposition indeed, but it's up to you decide if that is particularly egregious or not. What we can say is that cosmetic customisation is not one of the title's strong points.
And so we find ourselves in the same position that so many Games as a Service have been in before — the endgame of Marvel's Avengers is lacking at launch, but with the promise of long-term support, it could look completely different in a year's time. Multiple superheroes have already been confirmed to be free additions down the line with even more expected after that. We don't know what the Crystal Dynamics project will look like this time next year, but at the point where you are being asked to make a $60 investment, it doesn't live up to expectations.
One thing the developer will absolutely have to address, however, is the game's shocking framerate. It targets 30 frames-per-second but rarely achieves it in combat scenarios as the screen becomes littered with action, enemies, and debris. The PS4 Pro doesn't seem to be able to keep up with what Marvel's Avengers is putting out, forcing the frame rate to plummet into the teens on a worryingly regular basis. If anything, the upcoming PlayStation 5 version should do wonders for the title.
That doesn't excuse the copious amount of bugs and glitches present at launch, though. From hard crashes that force you into restarting the game through to comedic flaws which see Thor glitch all over the place as he attempts to fly, it has the lot. Enemies become suspended in mid-air, weekly challenges don't actually reset, a game-breaking bug ruins any enjoyment in HARM Rooms, and jarring transitions between gameplay and cutscenes can ruin any immersion. It's definitely not the best state to release in, that's for sure.
Marvel's Avengers' least advertised aspect turns out to be its greatest asset, and it's exactly what hardcore fans were craving the most. The story and everything that comes with it is a real highlight, allowing the exceptional Kamala Khan to take the lead and bring with her enjoyable combat systems and fun parkour. The shocking framerate, along with bugs and glitches, should be fixed in the near future, but it's what the game has you do after the credits roll that quickly becomes its biggest downfall. Marvel's Avengers has a single player campaign that thoroughly excites, surprises, and delights. What follows brings it crashing back down to Earth.
@LiamCroft Did you embrace this GAAS?
"You do not need to team up with other players online, you do not need to invest any extra cash beyond the initial $60 price point, and you do not need to grind for better gear to see the story through to its conclusion. This is a traditional experience that lets you ignore its online trappings completely until the credits roll"
This was perfectly clear to anyone who's not a hater.
I'm glad the campaign is great. That's all I, and many others who care mostly about the single player content, wanted to know.
"The game's equivalent of a Battle Pass hands out outfits for free, but you're limited by how much progress you can make each day."
Yay more garbage designed to frustrate you into coughing up cash for crap cosmetics. Aren't live services just wonderful?
I just finished the single player campaign last night and really enjoyed it. Not going to bother with all the multiplayer crap. Just going to pretend it doesn't exist!
The single player campaign really interests me, but all of the post-game stuff looks horrendous. I think I'll get it when the price has been slashed a bit
Really balanced review @LiamCroft. Enjoyed the read and it has led me to believe that I'll wait for price reductions before having as I have zilch interest in the GaaS but the campaign sounds fun.
@Rudy_Manchego Thanks! I absolutely think it's worth picking up for the single player alone when it's half price or thereabouts.
I've only had time to play a few hours of the story but so far the narrative is so good it makes it worth the purchase for me (But I'm a big Kamala fan). I'd say it's better then any of the marvel movies just in terms of story.
I also find the combat really satisfying and think that will be enough to keep me coming back to grind. It reminds me a lot of a Kirby or Mario game, where the action of just controlling your character feels so good that's it's just enjoyable to run around and play just because it's fun do.
I kinda wish you could buy a story only version at a reduced cost that cuts out all the 'games as a service', multiplayer and end of game grindy stuff because thats all id want from this. The rest just feels like a way to try and bleed my wallet dry at every given opportunity.
I'll pick it up when it's sub-$30 for Kamala, though the endless onslaught of robots is disappointing. I even got tired of fighting them in the beta. The call of cosmetics would have had me more interested in the multiplayer, honestly. That truly was a dumb decision.
I might play the single player bit one day if it's on sale but I'm not bothering with the open-wallet surgery multiplayer rubbish.
I'm happy to be wrong about this one. Kamala is the best. I'm an X-Men fan, and didn't really know much about her outside of Inhumans Vs X-Men, but she instantly likeable in this.
I haven't touched online still so, meh. Don't care about that.
Thank you for adressing the technical state of the game. I wrote in the WRC Review that I would really appreciate if you guys could go more into the technical side of the games and you guys listened, so thank you very much!
This seems to be the general consensus, although 6/10 is better than I was expecting so perhaps it is worth picking up after a really massive price drop.
I’m intending to play this on PS5. Hopefully the digital foundry types will do an analysis to tell me whether that would fix the problems.
@RBMango Not just cosmetics, but also hard to acquire resources that help upgrade gear. THAT part is annoying... I can leave the dress up roleplaying to the kids, I just wanted the resources that are locked behind a paywall.
@LiamCroft Yeah think I might.
The crazy thing about this GAAS backlash is that if they had released a 20 hour solid campaign and then charged for regular story based DLC with new or existing characters, I'd probably be quite interested in playing more of the same and pay for it.
@ohhaime I’m gonna let you in a little fun part. Once you get to the last mission and Tony gives out Starktech outfits... pay close attention. Kamala has the absolute best line in the whole game and it had me rolling. I won’t spoil it, but just pay extra attention to the cut scene.
Very well written article, shares about the same sentiments as I have... but... I’ll add one more con.
CON: Can’t replay campaign missions. Warning for those who haven’t finished the Titan mission. FIND THE BOX that gives you a DNA unlock key, you’ll need it later. I don’t know how I missed it, probably because Jarvis kept screaming to hurry up and probably some timer or something... but so far, have had to leave several other boxes locked and unopened because I missed that one key.
So take away the lifeservice and some extra polis and it would have been great.
@Lodogg3323 Oh God, I didn't even know about that.
Considering the frame rate issues, I guess I'll wait to play it on ps5. By then it will undoubtedly cost less than it does now.
But wait, I thought that live services only made games better and more enjoyable...
I’ll get this at a price drop.
I just can’t be bothered with this uninspired GaaS game.
@LiamCroft great review, very well written and very fair. I've only dipped in and out of this game, because truth be told, I bought it for my Marvel obsessed kids. My 10 year old got the platinum for Spiderman, and has been playing this game not stop for the past few weeks. He loves it, and says it's just as good as Spiderman. Neither of us have played the online content yet, but my son has completed the main story and is now playing the extra content. It's funny, but as you say it's very repetitive, I found the exact same thing in Spiderman's extra missions. But my son is enjoying the extra content more than the Spiderman ones. I guess we'll see how the online stuff goes in the next few months, and see how he likes that. I'm not a big online person, so I can't comment on that. One thing I will say, the promise of more characters (especially Spiderman!) has my son super excited for the future of this game. So although I think the 6/10 you gave is probably very fair, I'd have to give it an extra couple of marks due to the experience of someone who the game was totally aimed at, and their aim was spot on!
At £50 it’s just not worth it for a relatively decent 15 hour campaign. At this rate it’s basically a Call of Duty game.
From what I have read, the game also seems to have some dialogue issues.
@Jakovasaur In all fairness he does write:
"And so we find ourselves in the same position that so many Games as a Service have been in before — the endgame of Marvel's Avengers is lacking at launch, but with the promise of long-term support, it could look completely different in a year's time."
I may have been wrong on DNA keys... I’ve only been playing 4 days, mistakes are bound to happen.
Seems like a balanced review. On the whole I do look forward to playing the campaign. The bugs and frame rate issues are little disappointing but I assume much of that will have been addressed by the time it's on sale.
One thing I will say is this new trend of rushing an unfinished game seems to reward restraint at launch. I can't see that being a winning strategy unless devs are confident they'll recoup in the long term through monetization. Still seems counterintuitive to me though.
Didn't they said there will be NO PAID content?
@djlard No, Crystal Dynamics said that additional characters and all the gameplay elements that come with them will be free.
I'd go 7/10. My issues are the interrupted attacks. I hate that, because we can't interrupt the a.i. and I don't like having to play other heroes to level them..i with it was more like ultimate alliance where they still level up if the cpu controls them.
Could have been another P2W Mobile Game imp.
Yep great campaign and really worth playing. As for the live service side i find it fun but lacking, really though the biggest issue right now is the sheer amount of bugs what range from minor to major to gamebraking to game ending.
Good, I hope this game fizzles out deserves it with their console exclusive characters ***** any game and company that does that.
got the score it deserves. fair review.
@Lodogg3323 you get dna keys every time you compleat villian sector. I've used quite a few so far.
For me it's a 8
I have a lot of fun with this game
@W0rl0ck I’m doing something wrong, still don’t have one... I’m sure I’ll figure it out and it’ll be something so stupid and obvious...
Ok. Face meet palm... under Objectives, under Missions... ok... got it. I’m blaming Spidey’s girlfriend for that one. 😜🔥🌿💨
@Lodogg3323 You can pick up 2 villian sector missions each day, 1 from the shield agent and one from the inhuman agent
This review is awful. Stop defending this crap game. You obviously sold your soul and getting paid by the devs to defend this. Please no one take this review serious and please whatever you do DO NOT BUY this game.
First of all the User review on this site says the exact opposite of what you're saying. So its funny your own website/fanbase disagrees with you
Second how is the combat and boss fights good? Its literally just a button smasher. Super easy too as you can create super OP builds. This game is no challenge at all
Third. All the enemies are street thugs or robot AI. How is that good variety?
Kamala Khan isn't necessarily a BAD character but she shouldn't be the main character in a Avengers game. Marvel has hundreds of heroes and villains and so many unique side characters, the comic book Avengers had over 20 heroes! We are all drawn to a separate character, and each of the heroes has brought in so many fans and money to the franchise. So really there is no singular factor or character that can define the Avengers as every Avenger contributes to the franchise itself. Its true arrogance for developers to FORCE one Avenger down everyone's throat and make them the MAIN Avenger. Avengers isn't an Anime like Naruto or DBZ, there is no "chosen one" or protagonist, so why did it have a main character at all? It should have just let us play with whoever we wanted from the start or just let us customize our own hero, that would have made the game much more successful
Also how is the story good when we all know the ending? Obviously Cap ain't dead and of course the big baddie is an idiot who loses at the end. Lol nothing interesting or complex about that at all. Whats the point of the whole beginning arc of the Avengers disbanding if their going reunite after a single mission? Its not like there was any real stakes and we know the good guys won't die.
I just destroyed All of your pros. Its a ***** game. Stop defending it Liam!
Better than I expected, If the single player content increases over time I may well look into it down the line. Next gen should solve performance issues we should hope and give them time to squash the bugs. But it looks more like a £20 quite weekend buy than anything to get excited by
@ReadytoDestroy I think you'll find this sites community is perhaps a little more mature than expecting childish rants from both its writers and commentors. A little respect and maturity to engage with those who may not agree with you goes a long way in life
@W0rl0ck Part of one is a sabotage and my IronMan is 14/44 and I never did the Harm training and now it’s sooooo hard. I’ve spent the last however long it’s been just trying to get past that 3rd wave. Smh...
@ReadytoDestroy dude. You’re harshing the vibe.
@ReadytoDestroy Well at least you're living up to your username 🤷
I also hate this game and I still think that's a fair score for what the game has to offer. I think a delay and a severe reduction in microtransactions would have made this game decent.
I guess TL;DR version goes:
Play it as single player and you’ll be happy. Play it as looter game and you’ll hate it.
I don’t care about the multiplayer component and so far have a lot of fun with the game.
I’ll be looking forward to more story content.
I did not expect such low ratings. I pre-order it and nothing I can do about it now, just to enjoy the game as much as possible. I love superhero movies and games and I bought the game without hesitation.
@ReadytoDestroy you destroyed nothing no matter what you tell yourself.
Can you imagined if this is a full single player story games with no gaas and all of the budget for the games development is 100% go to the single player part? I think it will have the chance to be the best selling superheroes games of all times
I think this is a really fair review, well written and some great points. The campaign is a huge attraction, but i'll be patient for the bugs to be fixed.
@ReadytoDestroy what a gem of a comment. had a good laugh. thank you, sir.
Couple of friends have been playing for the last few days and convinced me to play with them. We've been looking for a new coop so I used my $5 off monthly coupon and picked it up. Played last night with them for a few mins. It was fun will probably dig into the campaign next week and just hop in on some missions with them till I can find real time.
I was on the fence about picking this up as I'd heard the single player is really good, but I just don't like the look of Kamala as a character. I mean, being stretchy? It's like buying infamous and having to play half the game as Delsin's friend who has the unique power of long arms.
It's a game about the avengers, I want to play as them not focus on some unknown fangirl, no matter how well done it is.
Slinging Cap's shield and running around as the God of Thunder is extremely fun, it just sucks that the end game content doesn't live up to the res of the game
This is a truly fair review! I was unable to cancel my pre-order but despite owning the game now, I will be holding off until next year when all of the DLC should be out.
I refuse to play thru an incomplete game.
The single player campaign sounds like great fun.
Think I'll wait for a) a price drop and b) for the game to be out of beta though.
It's a fair review though personally I thought the campaign was worse than Liam here. I'd give it 5/10 at most, if I was being generous.
The worst criticism I have is that you almost never feel like a superhero. That power fantasy that gaming is so good at delivering is hidden behind a loot/grind mechanic, bullet sponge enemies designed around multiplayer and mindless bots to fight. It makes you feel pretty weak at most times, almost like Superman (excuse the DC x Marvel crossover) is fighting with Kryptonite in his worn-over pants.
By the end of the game i'd unlocked barely any of the skill trees, skins or other upgrades for any characters. It's all cynically designed around grind and MTX... but doesn't even have an engaging enough loop to entice you to keep playing.
This is all obfuscated behind some beloved characters, excellent production values and a few too many lens flares.
There are still a few really nice moments (no spoilers) and I liked Kamala and most of the cast, it just failed at the one thing superhero games should deliver... being a superhero.
Honestly there are many better games to use your time on and many better games that deserve your support. This doesn't, or we will see more of it's like.
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